Santa Ana Islam Examiner

A San Diego State University graduate student trying to return home from Costa Rica was told by the U.S. government on Tuesday that he was on the “no-fly” list and could not board the plane with friends and family to return home.

Kavon Iraniha, 27, an Iranian-American Muslim who was born and raised in San Diego, was “shocked” when he was interviewed by the FBI about his political and religious affiliations and denied to board his flight back home to San Diego.

Iraniha had just received his master’s degree in international law from the University for Peace after one year in Costa Rica. He currently holds a bachelors degree in political science from San Diego State University.

No clear reason has been stated by the FBI and U.S. government why Iraniha was placed on a no-fly-list, said Hanif Mohebi, executive director of the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Iraniha and relatives arrived to the airport Tuesday to fly home where he was unable to receive a boarding pass. He later discovered that he was put on a no-fly list and interviewed about FBI officials at the U.S. Embassy.

“When I tried to ask as to why I was on the No-Fly list, I didn’t receive any answers,” Iraniha said on his Facebook account. “Why am I restricted from my rights as a U.S citizen? I don’t have any felonies, I am not a druggie! I am an educated American-Iranian Muslim citizen; I guess that makes me a threat.”

Iraniha will attempt to return to the U.S. Thursday by flying into Mexico and crossing the border, Mohebi said.

The no-fly list was started after the 9/11 attacks and is monitored by the Terrorist Screening Center, which compiles the list that allow the government to keep certain people who are considered a security risk from boarding a plane.

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RELATED NEWS

Anti-Muslim Hate-Crime and Discrimination Report 2005:

According to a report of hate crimes and discrimination against Muslims released in May 2005 entitled “Unequal Protection: The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States,” anti-Muslim hate crimes rose by more than 50 percent between 2003 to 2004; while 93 anti-Muslim hate crimes were recorded in 2003, 141 hate crimes were recorded in 2004. The study cites 1,552 cases of anti-Muslim occurrences including violence, discrimination, and harassment. Approximately 225 of these cases involved religious discrimination, such as a city’s opposition to a mosque. 196 cases involved discrimination in the workplace and 190 cases cited verbal harassment. The report hypothesizes that the increase in anti-Muslim sentiment can be attributed to websites and radio programs whose content propagates feelings of hate.

State Demographics

According to the CAIR report, nearly 80% of anti-Muslim crime was committed in only 10 states. 20% of crimes were committed in California, followed by New York (10%), Arizona (9%), Virginia (7%), Texas (7%), Florida (7%), Ohio (5%), Maryland (5%), New Jersey (5%), and Illinois (3%). Incidents occurring in California in 2004 included the assault of a Portuguese man in San Diego who was mistaken for being of Middle Eastern descent. A group of white men yelled racial slurs at him and told him to “go back to Iraq.” On December 30, 2004, also in California, a Muslim woman wearing a hijab was pushing her baby in a stroller when a man in a truck almost ran them over near a gas station. When the woman cried, “You almost killed my baby!,” the man responded, “It wouldn’t have been a big loss.”

Increase of Police Discrimination

One of the most salient increases from 2003 to 2004 is that of discrimination by police such as unwarranted arrests and searches. These comprised nearly a quarter of CAIR cases in 2004, while in 2003 they comprised only 7% of incidents. One example of unreasonable arrest occurred on June 10th, 2004 in Colorado where a Muslim family’s house was raided by the IRS and armed FBI agents who drew their guns. The family was told that an IRS investigation was being conducted and the agents proceeded to ask them questions such as “Are you Shiite or Sunni?” and questions about “Hamas, Hezbollah, and suicide bombings.” They were also asked “If the US went to war with Iran, which side would you be on?” The agents took with them all items in the house containing non-English writing, including the daughter’s diary. Another example of law-enforcement abuse occurred on October 11, 2004 in Minneapolis where a female hijab-wearing Muslim student of Somali background was pulled over by police. The policemen searched her car and threw her belongings onto the street, including her Islamic books and the Qur’an. They then left her to pick them up by herself.

Hate Crimes on Campuses

Anti-Muslim hate crimes have been especially visible on the campuses of universities and colleges nationwide since 9/11. In the Spring of 2003, anti-Muslim rants were shouted towards student Christine Lo’s dorm room at Yale. Lo had hung an upside-down American flag outside of her window to protest the war in Iraq. The ranting students also attempted to pry open her door with a plank of wood. After they left, Lo found a note prompting Americans to kill Muslims and ”launch so many missiles their mothers don’t produce healthy offspring.” Yale administrator Raphael Soifer also became the target of discrimination when a Yale student spit at him in a dining hall and exclaimed ”I hope you and your families die! Why don’t you go live in Iraq.” Similar threats have been found at institutions such as San Jose State University (California) in 2003, where graffiti in the bathroom claimed, ”Muslims will be shot on SJSU campus on March 10!” At the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center, moreover, Muslim prayer rugs were discovered soaked in pig’s blood.

Status Quo

The trends indicated by the CAIR report, moreover, continue to hold true in 2005. As recently as June 2005, a Baltimore mosque was vandalized and the incident is suspected to be bias-related. Red paint was splashed on the mosque’s sign, walls and fence. As Washington Post columnist Colbert I. King noted in his July 2, 2005 article entitled “Let’s Proudly Hail the Rights of All,” anti-Muslim sentiments are as prevalent as ever, even comparable to sentiments held by many of Japanese Americans during World War II. In June 2005 alone, King notes, a man was sentenced for firebombing an El Paso mosque, a Qur’an was desecrated with human waste in Nashville, a mosque was burned in California, a bag of burned Qur’ans was left outside an Islamic center in Virginia, and an Islamic school in Miami was vandalized for the third time. Political freedom, he muses, is perhaps not extended to Muslim Americans.

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